It was amazing how much calmer the vampire was over the next week. It did as instructed, with no growling and fighting. In return, Abraham was careful to treat him with respect, phrasing the orders much as he did with any other servant. Dracula, Alucard now, was not a mindless animal, and he'd already seen the results of treating him as one.
He'd continued to feed the vampire well, and his household was now peaceful. Tonight, he hadn't had time to warm up the vampire's blood. Normally, the cook would have a shallow pan of boiling water ready and he'd place the bowls in it until the blood was heated. With the cook ill today, no water had been heated and he'd been too busy to remember to heat it up himself. Still, he thought, grabbing the pair of bowls, the vampire would be fine with the cold blood. He'd eaten it for months before, after all.
Opening the door was no longer met with a growl, only red eyes watching him if he'd brought the blood down after dark, or a closed and silent coffin if the sun was still in the sky. Today, the sun had set. Alucard was standing, leaning on the wall near the door, obviously waiting impatiently for his dinner. Another difference...he held the bowl out to the vampire, rather than placing it on the ground as though feeding a dog.
Alucard reached out quickly, taking the bowl from his hand, a look of anticipation and hunger clear on his face...only to have the look flash to disgust and the vampire stiffen. As quickly as it had appeared, the look vanished to be replaced by the blank look that Abraham had come to recognize as Alucard trying not to anger him by revealing emotions that might do so.
Oh. Apparently, warming the blood DID matter to the vampire.
"If you don't mind the delay, I can warm it, but it will be a half-hour or more. I had thought you'd prefer it here on time and cold rather than late and warm."
The shaggy black head shook in quick negation and Alucard thrust the bowl back to him, the congealed blood oozing slightly up and over the brim. Abraham nearly reprimanded the vampire for the mess of the drips of blood on his hand, but the look of utter disgust the vampire was directing at the bowl stopped him.
If the vampire found it that unpalatable, and he'd been feeding Alucard that cold blood all these months...and not enough, at that... Well. He'd remedy that. Curious, though...
"It is that bad cold?"
"Yes." Alucard's quick, hard retort emphasized just how bad it was, but the vampire continued. "Clotted is bad, cold is worse. Both is nearly unconsumable." A pause while the vampire thought it over. "It would be like you eating cold, rotten raw meat. Bad enough it's raw, but rotten, too?" A faint shudder ran through the thin frame. Even with a month of good feeding, the vampire had never regained its former bulk, always looking slightly underfed. Abraham had worried that he wasn't feeding it well enough still until Alucard had begun leaving some of the blood in the bowls, a sure sign of a full stomach.
"I see. I'll go warm it, then." How to keep the vampire occupied...ah. The room was bare. The vampire had to either stand, or sit on the rough, splintered crates. "There is furniture stored down here. While this is warming, why don't you see if there is something you'd like for your room?" No mistake there...the vampire was smiling! Faint, but there!
x x x
Dracula watched his Master leave. He still hated the man, always would. A few weeks of not being starved and not being beaten did not mean that he was free. If the opportunity presented itself, he'd tear out the man's throat and return to his homeland.
But...for the first time...his captivity was not unbearable. He was not happy...but not miserable.
Abraham was trying to make this into a "home" for him. Letting him "choose" a room, now allowing him to decorate it and furnish it? Chosen, furnished...it was still a prison.
But he'd make it a less uncomfortable prison. And he knew what he wanted, too. He also knew that Abraham expected him to select some pieces from the jumble in the storage rooms, get permission, and then move them to the room. But Van Helsing had not specified that, had he?
There was a small bit of worry that he'd be beaten for this, but it was worth it to strike a small blow back at the man. And so Alucard went to fetch furniture he'd long since noticed. Before, it had been only noticed as he would never have thought it would make any difference. Now?
By the time Abraham returned with the bowls of warmed blood, he was seated comfortably in a slightly battered, outdated, enormous wooden chair, an overly-ornate pewter candleabra behind him, complete with unlit candles. To his side was a long, low table, probably fine at one time but with a top marred by deep scratches. His red gaze dared Abraham to punish him for it.
Abraham stepped through the door, tray with warmed bowls upon it, to be met by the sight of his monster lounging arrogantly and with a glare of silent defiance.
Newfound respect and care for the beast or not, Alucard would be aware that it was only with his permission that the vampire would keep that furniture. Sliding the tray with the warmed blood onto the table the vampire had retrieved, he gave the furniture a cursory glance and then nodded. "Those will do."
He was relieved to see no fear on the vampire's face, but instead a smirk. Even so, there had been physical tension; Alucard had been prepared for a confrontation, and visibly relaxed when no was forthcoming. If the beast was willing to challenge him on minor points, he'd allow it. It might reduce the frequency of major rebellions in the future!
It had been demeaning to wake on the couch, the material cooling underneath him, and Abraham's coat draped over his shoulders. Picking through his memories, he'd realized that he'd fallen asleep there on Van Helsing's lap, and then been left on the comfortable couch, warmed by the man's body heat, when they'd gone to bed. They? Yes...Seward had been there.
He was no pet, no lapdog.
He could accept his servitude, had no choice in the matter. But Abraham WOULD recognize who his servant was...and would treat that servant accordingly!
It seemed that the man was. Decent food, furnishings, some minor respect, and no abuse for an unprecedented stretch of time. No treating him like a mindless beast with no will or thought of his own and beating him until he acted as such. Van Helsing was learning.
Too bad he'd have to kill the man eventually, no matter how well the man learned. Abraham had turned him into a prisoner, and abused him terribly. The man would die. But until then...this was at least bearable. Finally.
Sipping at the warm blood, he entertained himself with images of just how he would kill the man. The sheer variety of means and possible ways that Van Helsing would plead with him to stop were a fertile source of pleasure until the rising sun urged him to his coffin.